The term felling refers to the process of cutting down entire trees from the base of the trunk. This process is not as simple as it may sound; In fact, it can be dangerous since you are cutting from the ground level. Felling requires precision and great care to ensure the safety of people around, the surrounding area and preservation of the wood. For these reasons, there are particular cuts that you can use to ensure that the trees fall in the direction you desire.
While giving technique names is crucial for easy differentiation of one method from another, it may cause some issues. Usually, when learning a tree felling method, first, you know its name and then connect its specific sequence of angles and cuts. This is considered as basic training. However, it is vital to know the educational part that explains how the techniques work. It goes a long way in understanding and making an informed decision for specific results.
Factors to Consider Before Felling Trees
Before you begin the process, it is essential to consider certain aspects in determining how and where a tree falls. Planning helps you to avoid blunders that can potentially add up to cause a fatal disaster. Here are a few factors to keep in mind for maximum safety and production.
- Right tool: A chainsaw is an essential tool that you need for the job. It should have around 3.5 horsepower to cut down most trees. You will also need tree felling wedges, a rope and a ladder depending on where the tree is.
- Safety gears: It is always better to take necessary caution when using power tools, let alone felling trees. Use safety glasses to prevent debris from getting in your eyes. Gloves and leg protection are also vital for protection against possible scratches. Also, you should have a test rope that measures three times the height of the tree as a safety backup.
- The terrain of the area.
- Consider physical obstacles such as power cables, other trees, or fences.
- Strength and direction of the wind. Never attempt to cut a tree on a windy day.
- Take into account the tree species and the natural lean of the trees.
Types of Tree Felling Cuts
Knowing the details of specific cuts is super important. the tree felling process involves three main kinds of cuts that result in Humbolt, conventional and open-faced notch. So, what is a notch? It refers to an opening in a tree trunk made through angled cuts to facilitate a tree falling in the desired direction. While the traditional 45-degree notch may have been due to older equipment limitations and traditions, it is a very productive method.
Regardless of the kind of cut you are using, always clear the debris from the tree base, get rid of all potential hazards and establish an escape route. The escape route should be at least 20″ and 45-degree from the tree.
The top cut
In open-faced notch, the top cut is made at a 70-degrees downward angle. Typically, this cut faces the desired direction of fall and is from 1/4 to 1/3 of the tree’s diameter. There are two steps to attain this cut.
Select the starting point
This is the first area that most newbies make mistakes. They are likely to not leave adequate space for the down cut. To choose the best starting point, you will need to engage in the calculation and accurate marking.
Begin by drawing a straight line to determine where you will place your down cut. Ensure that the mark is on the 1/3 of the trunk diameter, which will be the center point. From the right, measure 110-degrees angle or 70-degree angle from your left. Proceed to mark the spot that corner meets the tree boundary.
Cut to the ending point
This is where the actual cutting starts. Begin from the starting point while following the marks steadily with your chainsaw. As soon as you reach half the tree radius, you should stop cutting.
One common mistake that people tend to make is not making precise measurements. More so, maintaining a straight line when cutting also proves to be problematic. Another area that you are likely to mess up is the cutting angle.
Type 2: The undercut or bottom cut
For the open-faced notch, the bottom cut is made at 20 degrees’ upward angle, flat horizontal for conventional notch and 45 degrees for Humbolt notch. This cut also involves two steps.
Choose the starting point
For this cut, you can opt to continue cutting at the same angle that the top cut ends. However, ensure that you have at least a 70-degree top angle cut. It is advisable to have a 90-degree opening for efficiency and effectiveness.
Mark the starting point to get a measurement gap. With a straight line, now create a 20-degree angle and stretch it to the tree boundary. By now, you should have the bottom cut line.
Cut to the endpoint
All that you need to do now is follow the line and cut to the end of the top cut. If you do it right, you should have a perfect 90-degree opening.
Mistakes in measurements like depth and angles, might mess your notch. Furthermore, the tree may fall out of proportion, which can result in the tree breaking and potential consequences. Besides, some fellers fail to cut straight leading to messed angles.
Type 3: The back cut
The final cut of tree felling is the back cut. This cut is created on the opposite side of the notch. You should ensure that it links about 95% of the tree. Meaning that you need a hinge to help you control the felling.
First, select a spot on the opposite area of the notch. This area should be levelled to the place that the top cut and bottom cut meet. Mark a line from the starting point to the ending spot of the cut. It is crucial to understand the hinge length if you want to know the endpoint.
Ensure that the length of the hinge is 1/10th of the tree’s diameter. Therefore, your ending point should leave out this space between the notch and back cut.
When it comes to back cut, the most common mistake is in choosing the start point. Many fellers are likely to begin cutting above the notching corner. Furthermore, you may also cut too deep or create a more sloping cut. The mistakes can result in kickback, barber chair, logged tree and throwback.
Kinds of Notches
Varying types of notches depends on different kinds of angles. These notches have different uses, benefits and disadvantages. However, we recommend using the open face notch since it is easy to learn and much safer.
This is the perfect method if you are looking for high accuracy. It is also excellent if you are working on a tight spot while maintaining its accuracy. Furthermore, the hinge stays in position until the tree falls. This notch is also safe because there is little risk of kickback. On the flip side, it takes extra time, and you may have to cut off the hinge.
This is the most used notch among loggers. Besides, it is also fast and safe. Although it is not as accurate as of the open-faced notch, it has a certain degree of accuracy. Its disadvantage is that the hinge breaks early.
This method is where the base gets in an upward angle while the top cut is flat. It is not perfect for inclining trees due to the kickback it produces over the stump. However, this notch saves more wood.
Although there are other types of tree felling cuts, the three above are much safer and familiar. Note that you can simply get various notches by merely changing the starting points and angles of the cuts. Always consider the terrain, physical structures, weather, safety gears, cutting tools and tree species. All these factors ensure the safety of people involved, the surrounding and the quality of lumber produced.